People Connected to Jan. 6 Discuss Struggles During Epoch Times Panel at CPAC

Joseph Lord
By Joseph Lord
February 23, 2024Jan. 6 Coverage
People Connected to Jan. 6 Discuss Struggles During Epoch Times Panel at CPAC
(L–R) American Thought Leaders host Jan Jekielek, Epoch Times senior investigative journalist Joe Hanneman, Jan. 6 defendant’s spouse Sarah McAbee, Jan. 6 attorney Bill Shipley, Jan. 6 defendant’s aunt Geri Perna, whistleblower and former FBI special agent Garret O’Boyle, and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel during The Epoch Times' Jan. 6 panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024. (Terry Wang/The Epoch Times)

R)–NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—The Epoch Times on Feb. 23 hosted a panel on the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol and its continuing effects on American politics, and the struggles and alleged persecutions that have emerged for those close to the events of that day.

The panel, hosted by American Thought Leaders host Jan Jekielek, featured The Epoch Times’ senior investigative journalist Joe Hanneman, Jan. 6 defendant’s spouse Sarah McAbee, Jan. 6 attorney Bill Shipley, Jan. 6 defendant’s aunt Geri Perna, whistleblower and former FBI Special Agent Garret O’Boyle, and former Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.

Mr. Hanneman, who’s become well-known among conservatives for his coverage of the events of Jan. 6, received a generous round of applause after being introduced.

Mr. Jekielek and the panelists discussed the lingering effects of Jan. 6 on the American political landscape, and the tragedies that have befallen families caught up in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) vast prosecutorial net—a subject explored in depth in The Epoch Times original documentary “The Real Story of January 6 Part 2.”

The event, which featured the panel discussion as well as a screening of the trailer for the documentary, was standing room only due to high interest among CPAC attendees.NTD Photo

The members of the panel related their own experiences with the DOJ, and how that has continued to affect their families.

Here are some of the topics discussed during the hour-long event.

NTD Photo
Attendees at The Epoch Times’ panel discussion on its documentary “The Real Story of Jan. 6: The Long Road Home” at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024. (Terry Wang/The Epoch Times)

National Guard Absent

A key area of continued speculation about the events of Jan. 6 involves the shocking apparent under-preparedness of U.S. Capitol Police to handle the massive crowd of President Donald Trump’s supporters who came to the nation’s capital that day.

Mr. Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the Secretary of Defense at that time, explained that the blame for this under-preparedness lay squarely with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“President Trump had the foresight to preemptively authorize the National Guard,” Mr. Patel said.

However, due to a constitutional requirement meant to limit the military power of the president domestically, President Trump was unable to unilaterally deploy the National Guard in the federal district and on Capitol grounds without the authorization of Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Bowser.

“You don’t want uniformed military deployed into America just on a whim,” Mr. Patel explained. “So there’s a check on it: that check is not just the presidential authorization—you need to request from the governing authority. Usually [that authority is] the state, but in this instance, it’s the mayor since it’s Washington, D.C., it’s the Capitol Police and the Speaker of the House.

“Mayor Bowser and Speaker Pelosi both declined, and so … we had half the equation, but we didn’t have the leadership in the District of Columbia willing to secure the nation’s capital and other areas,” Mr. Patel explained.

“It’s been lied about ever since.”

The reason for this, he said, was that “they wanted … to turn Washington into downtown Kandahar, [Afghanistan]” in order to paint President Trump as an enemy of the U.S. regime.

In the aftermath of the Capitol breach, left-wing political voices and other critics have persistently blamed President Trump for the event. Defenders of President Trump, however, point to his authorization of the National Guard as a sign that he had no ill intent that day.

FBI Whistleblower Discusses Retribution

The panel also heard from Mr. O’Boyle, who—until he spoke out about the FBI’s conduct in Jan. 6 cases—was a respected special agent in the bureau.

That changed when Mr. O’Boyle challenged the powers that be in the nation’s highest branch of law enforcement.

“If you try to shine a light on the wrongdoings of the FBI, they will crush you,” Mr. O’Boyle said.  “They’ve attempted to crush me and my family.”

Mr. O’Boyle first listed several areas where the FBI diverged from standard procedure, including when they opened an investigation on the basis of an uncorroborated anonymous tip—a major due process violation among law enforcement. In another case, a person was identified on the basis of a 25-year-old photo—another major deviation from standard procedure.

Several reports he encountered were “clearly vindictive,” Mr. O’Boyle said.

Eventually, the deviations from accepted practice became too much for him, and he felt obligated to bring his experiences to Congress.

After that, retribution was swift.

Officially, the special agent was suspended without pay on suspicion of leaking protected information to the media. This ended with the O’Boyle family becoming effectively homeless and living in an RV, reliant on charity to stay afloat.

In reality, he said the FBI quickly knew these allegations were false—but has kept him suspended anyway. Another special agent who questioned Mr. O’Boyle’s continued suspension was subsequently suspended himself, Mr. O’Boyle reported.

Mr. O’Boyle’s story is only one of several told by FBI agents who have faced swift and harsh retaliation for questioning the mad dash to arrest and imprison Jan. 6 defendants.

Jan. 6 Defendant’s Tragic Death

The panel also heard from Geri Perna, aunt of Jan. 6 defendant Matthew Perna.

Mr. Perna, facing years in prison, tragically took his own life after prosecutors threatened a terrorism enhancement to his charges during sentencing that would have seen him facing even longer in prison.

Ms. Perna explained that her nephew did go into the Capitol on Jan. 6, but emphasized that he “didn’t break anything” and “was only there for 14 minutes” before leaving.

“What followed was 12 months of mental torture,” Ms. Perna said.

NTD Photo
Matthew L. Perna. (Courtesy of Perna Family)

Mr. Perna pled guilty on the advice of his lawyer, but Ms. Perna said this was only because, like other Jan. 6 defendants, he “really [had] no choice.” She noted the near impossibility of getting a fair trial in the sapphire blue federal district, which has never in its history voted for a Republican.

“My nephew pled guilty against my advice because he just needed it to be over,” Ms. Perna said.

The new nightmare began for him when prosecutors threatened to recommend a terrorism enhancement to his sentencing. A terrorism enhancement in federal sentencing substantially raises the severity of the offense and, by corollary, the sentence.

The basis for this threat, Ms. Perna said, was a post to Facebook in which Mr. Perna, discussing the upcoming rally, used a bomb emoji.

Ms. Perna explained: “he thought going there was going to be this historical moment, ‘it’s going to be the bomb.'”

Prosecutors had a different appraisal of the meaning of the emoji, however, and suggested that it indicated that Mr. Perna attended the rally with terroristic intent.

At that point, Ms. Perna said, she received a phone call from her nephew, sobbing so loudly he was incomprehensible.

A few days later, Ms. Perna learned that her 37-year-old nephew had hanged himself in his garage.

Afterwards, Ms. Perna told The Epoch Times that, during a previous conversation about her nephew, a prosecutor allegedly told her that her nephew “should have waited” because the terrorism enhancement “probably wouldn’t have stuck.”

Ms. Perna said the prosecutor now denies this conversation.

Speaking to The Epoch Times after the screening, Jan Gloria of Texas was both impressed and disturbed by the panel discussion.

“It’s just so sad that they’re going through what they’re going through, and our government is not doing anything about it,” Ms. Gloria said. “It’s just horrendous.”

What she found most disturbing, she said, was the corruption in the federal government.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong anymore. It’s what they want you to be,” Ms. Gloria said. “And that’s very scary, unconstitutional, and wrong.”

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.